Jan 14, 2014

Should You "Entertain" Kids at Church? (my response)

I sometimes hear people in Children's Ministry say they don't believe in "entertaining" children at church.

I understand what they're saying.  They don't believe we should spend the small window of time we have doing things that do not directly teach kids to love God and His Word.

I agree...if that is your definition of entertainment at church.  Entertainment for entertainment sake alone is not what we are called to do.  Kids can be "entertained" at Disney World or at a movie or at home in front of a video game.

I think a word that better fits what we are should be doing is...engagement.  We want to see kids engaged in God's Word.

Kids should be entertained at church if the goal of the "entertainment" is to capture their attention and engage them with God's Word.

Let's make this simple and easy to understand.  We have the most important message in the world.  We must engage kids with it.  To do this, we must capture their attention.

"How" you capture their attention is not main issue.  If what you are doing is engaging kids and capturing their attention, then I'm all for it.  If that's a video, game, craft, drama, story, flannel-graph or whatever...then keep it up.

But...if what you are doing is boring kids to death and causing them to dread coming to church, then you should change and start "entertaining" them.  Remember...by entertaining I mean engaging.

I will say this.  Make sure you are using methods that connect with today's kids.  If you're still trying to teach kids the same way they did in 1960, then you may want to make some changes.  These are the kids of 2014...not the kids of 1960.

I think the criticism about "entertaining kids" usually comes from someone who sees people using different methods of engaging kids than they are using.  If it's not the way they do it, then it must just be "entertainment."

Entertaining and engaging...when it comes down to it these two words mean the same thing in my opinion.  Whatever you call what you are doing with kids, just make sure it's working.

Okay.  Your turn.  What are your thoughts about "entertaining" kids at church?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

20 comments:

Nice post! I agree that entertainment for entertainment sake alone is not what we are called to do. It's so important to engage kids in ways they learn best (music, arts, play...).

I always think of what Paul said: "I have become all things to all men that I might save some." Paul said he become like a Jew to reach a Jew and like a Greek to reach a Greek. I believe Paul would say that he would become like a child to reach a child. We have to speak kids' language to reach them for Christ. Their language is fun, play, discovery, engagement. Great post, Dale!

I guess you have set your own definition for 'entertaining' as 'engaging', which is what all children's programs should not only strive for, but achieve with greatness, in my opinion. But when I hear the word 'entertaining', I think this: 'You sit down and relax while I perform for you. No effort is required on your part. Just enjoy it all.'

I agree! It's when entertainment takes the place of sound biblical teaching and ministering to children that there is a problem.
We need to use all the modern methods available to reinforce our message. Just don't let it become the message.

I heard a christian Magician say that he always develops the gospel message 1st then the illusion. If we develop the illusion then try to come up with a message to go with it we don't do the gospel justice. This can be true with any method we use to teach with. Let it be used to reinforce the gospel message not be the message.

Thanks David. Appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks Chris. Group does such a good job engaging kids using all the R.E.A.L. learning approach.

I understand your viewpoint about "entertaining" being associated with someone just sitting and consuming. But I would add that all entertainment is not passive. The best entertainment is interactive and participatory.

Great word Jerry. Thanks for sharing.

Love the connotation of "engaging." Will borrow that idea!

It is very good point. I often say to my teachers and volunteers that fun is just colorful candy wrapper, but Gospel message is what should be inside.

Great insights. Can I share with my Sunday staff?

Feel free to share with your team. Blessings Kim.

I have seen kids entertained. One SS I visited had them jumping up and down singing a pirate/fish song. Nothing to do with the Bible story, which turned out to be a few minutes of "token" Bible content. This is fluff, which I think probably happens because the kids' dept. has to provide content for 3 hours, SS, and children's church both and most kids go to both thus no repeats. However, your article, dealing with engagement, is right-on. As long as it has to do with the Bible teaching and discipleship, it helps the kids connect with that and remember it better. We have kids telling their parents, who were considering missing church, NO! we don't want to miss Children's church! So I agree with the author, but still it has to be acknowledged some of the things done in some children's departments are entertainment, not engagement, indeed.

Totally agree! And not matter what venue of ministry (worship, students or children) different forms of "engagement" can be seen as "entertainment." We are seeing that as we've changed staff in our worship team recently and and some who would care more for traditional styles of worship are seeing that our new form of more aggressive contemporary worship is entertainment, however, it truly has to do with the attitude and direction of the heart. Where are you guiding people? To you or to the Lord. This is a tough transition and many times those who are not in the implementation process or every teaching aspect of children's ministry or whathaveyou may view those "new things" as entertainment. Time certainly helps and continuing to be gracious with those who disagree goes along way in success as you help them see the differences.

I love that we serve a creative God! Whether you use the word engagement or entertainment, we still serve a God that can bring creativity to the Message. When Jesus taught, he used Truth, how they learn, and the current culture to meet them where they were at, and some were entertained, and some were engaged. We have the opportunity to use the creative things of today's culture and world to bring the unfailing Gospel to kids so they can be Saved & know Him.

Thanks for sharing Sam and Heather, change is never easy for anyone is it. Takes time for sure.

Samantha, your heart to reach kids is inspiring!

Appreciate previous posts share. Still having a struggle with the quality of time management. Once we've honored individuals Birthdays for the week, welcomed first time visitors, given out tickets for possible contest prizes to be won, watched kids do dance moves to songs they lip sic to music videos then an unprepared adult muddles through a Bible story with no spiritual content that leaves possibly 10-12 mins. for some foolish games that fill in time till the parents retrieve them. There is no presentation of the plan of Salvation or the real presence of Christ Jesus in these young ones lives.Are we intentionally dulling down these young ones souls? Are we teaching them to hopscotch to hell?

Great word Lynda. Sounds like you're in need of some new curriculum. Every moment with the kids should be intentional and point kids to God's Word - everything...the games, songs, etc.

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